It’s a chilly day in north London, and Alex “The Ox” Oxlade-Chamberlain has an important decision to make. “It used to be Alex Song for me, he was quite extravagant with his clothes. Now I think it’s Olivier Giroud. He comes in looking smart, very French, very suave, and the girls like him as well, so I give it to him.”
Fine, deciding which of his teammates is the best-dressed member of Arsenal Football Club may not be such a huge deal — and as you can see, Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t scrub up too badly himself — especially for a winger who, at only 19, has already had more of a footballing career than most.
After signing for Southampton at seven years old, he was playing for the first team by 16, signed to Arsenal a few days before his 18th birthday, and last year, became the second-youngest player after Wayne Rooney to represent England at the Euros.
Football might have seemed an inevitable path given that his father, Mark Chamberlain, played for Portsmouth, Stoke and England, but it was only at Alex’s insistence that his dad gave in: “He was keen, but only because I was so keen,” he says. His mum wanted him to be a doctor, though for her sins she ended up with two footballing sons — Alex’s 14-year-old brother, Christian, plays for Portsmouth’s under-16s.
Does that lead to a lot of football chat around the dinner table? “I think if you asked my mum that one she’d give you a strong answer.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has come into an England squad in an exciting state of flux under a manager, Roy Hodgson, who seems keen to let the younger players show what they can do. “It’s good for the new generation coming through,” says Oxlade-Chamberlain. “You’ve had the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, fantastic amazing players we’ve all looked up to, and I think now we’re starting to realise it’s our turn to step into the frame and prove ourselves.”
There is of course the small matter of a World Cup on the horizon in 2014, in which, if Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career follows its current trajectory, he’ll be a vital part. He’ll also be on the cusp of turning 21. Will it be a relief not to be the kid any more? “No, it’s good being the youngest!” he says with a grin. “You get away with things…”
Interview - Miranda Collinge
Photographer – David Titlow
Fashion – Gareth Scourfield
Look 1 (top)
(Grey knitted wool jacket, £1105, grey striped knitted vest, £295, grey wool trousers, £430, black leather belt, £230, all by Dolce&Gabbana. White and grey leather high tops, £260 by Sandro. 44mm Big Bang in rose gold with black ceramic bezel, £23,000 by Hublot)
(Khaki cotton hooded drawstring parka, £655, charcoal crew neck ribbed cotton mix sweater, £235, beige cotton front pleat trousers, £230, all by Emporio Armani. White and grey leather high tops, £260 by Sandro.)
(Navy mohair jacket with cream stripe, £1,450, navy cashmere polo with red collar, £535, navy mohair trousers with cream detail, £505, all by Prada. 44mm Big Bang in rose gold with black ceramic bezel, £23,000 by Hublot.
(Brown silk and cotton jacket, £1085 by Bottega Veneta, white cotton t-shirt, £38 by Under. Cashmere tracksuit bottoms, £1050 by Brunello Cucinelli. Black leather high tops, Alex’s own. 44mm Big Bang in rose gold with black ceramic bezel, £23,000 by Hublot.)
(Black cotton jacket with black leather detailed collar, £525, Mint green t-shirt, £145, all by Paul Smith.)